The Rise of InstaPoetry and What's In It For You

‘Poetry can be painted by any hand’ quote from Karina Pearl Thorne

‘Poetry can be painted by any hand’ quote from Karina Pearl Thorne

My thoughts inspired by a post in Trisha Traughber’s Vagabond English Facebook group about the value of so-called Instapoetry.

The Rise of Instapoetry

When I think of InstaPoetry I think of it as the cross-section of technology and creative expression. We have found, over time, that technology has made our (I mean anyone younger than me!) attention span shorter, which leads us wanting smaller, shorter, more direct pieces of information. I see instapoets as simply a product of their of their environment, doing what comes naturally, connecting directly to their audience, in the only way they know how, hence their popularity. 

We have also found that technology has given everyone a platform - should they want it. This democratisation of audience access is having a huge impact on the music industry, say, where artists no longer have to hope to be signed by one of a few select labels in the country, i.e., almost impossible in a lifetime, but can literally do it all themselves in terms of building a tribe, promotion, touring and even making money. 

So you might think, hey, if anyone can do it, that means we are going to be exposed to a whole load of crap musicians and poets, then! Hmm, maybe. But one person’s crap is another person’s gold! We all have different likes, wants and desires. It’s just that previously we did not have access to a truly, broad range of artists. Now anyone can find their niche, and, conversely, anyone can create their niche. 

I see this as a good thing - if no-one likes it, but the person creating it does, then they will continue to express themselves. No harm there. If they were only doing it to be popular, they will stop or they will change their niche. If the creator likes it and others like it, why not keep doing it (as long as it does not harm others)? Sounds like they are on to a good thing, to me.

But Instapoetry isn’t real poetry, is it?

Now that all sounds exciting, but then you say - hey! That’s not real poetry! It doesn’t look or sound anything like 18/19th century poetry! And so that’s another battle to fight. Is music/poetry only acceptable if it conforms to <fill in the gap with poetry/music form from the past>? Or is it possible that one day, someone is going to do something new? Or take something old and make something new? Isn’t it inevitable that the poetry of 2019 is going to look and sound quite different from anything that came before it?

So yeah, I think it’s pretty amazing that people are making careers out of YouTube make-up tutorials and Instapoetry. I like the direct audience access it gives you, and the ability to be independent, cutting out the middle man (who might not give a damn about you. anyway.) I feel that you don’t just become popular by magic. You must have some ability/skill/knowledge. And this is what the Kaur’s and others possess, as well as being tech savvy and just hyper-aware of what their peers love.

What’s In It For You

In sum, poetry has changed dramatically in the sense that the people who are producing it and the audience who are consuming it have dramatically changed. I think that it is a step towards dismantling an archaic system that keeps hordes of talented people out of the so-called ‘industry’. Poetry and spoken word are absolutely blowing up here in London, right now. When I go out, I can see people who look like me talking about things I know and care about, in a clear and accessible way. And it gives me a thrill I have never felt in my whole lifetime.

So that’s why there’s instapoetry in me…and why I believe there is instapoetry in you, too!

Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash

Karina Thorne